Plea for new cafe in Butetown to replace knocked down Paddle Steamer
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Butetown residents have made a plea for a new cafe to be included in a planned council flats scheme to replace the former Paddle Steamer.
The Paddle Steamer Cafe used to be on Loudon Square but last year permission was granted to Cardiff council’s housing department to knock it down and build a block of flats.
Now the council is planning another social housing scheme nearby, on Bute Street, with 45 apartments for elderly community living, comprising 35 one-bed flats and 10 two-bed flats.
The new six-storey scheme will be built on the corner of Bute Street and Hannah Street, on the site of the former Brandon Tool Hire, and will include a sports hall on the ground floor.
Councillors on the planning committee granted permission for the scheme on Wednesday, February 2, after hearing pleas to consider including a cafe to replace the Paddle Steamer including a petition signed by 64 people.
In a letter to the committee, Eid Ali Ahmed said: “There is a need for a cafe with a community hub to meet the needs of the community.”
He said the former nearby Paddle Steamer Cafe used to be a community hub, sometimes used for weddings, before it closed down in October 2020, as part of a separate new council housing scheme in Butetown.
He added: “There has since been a big gap of facilities for the community, as they are Muslims and don’t go to pubs.”
In January last year, the council received permission to knock down the Paddle Steamer and build 28 social housing flats in its place. Similar calls were made then to include a cafe on the ground floor, but these were turned down by the council.
Local campaigner Lyn Eynon also called for the council to consider including a new cafe on the ground floor, instead of the sports hall.
He told the committee: “There is local demand for cafes where people can eat and meet. A cafe is not only a place for food and drink, but also a social space which can be used after weddings, funerals or prayers, for festive meals, or to watch sport or play pool. The old Paddle Steamer Cafe nearby was well used and is missed.
“Over 500 people objected to its planned demolition, as did local mosques, businesses, sports clubs and youth organisations. There’s limited land available in this part of Butetown, so it’s important that this welcome new development meets community needs. A small cafe would do that better than a flexible activity space.”
But Steffan Harries, a planning agent representing the housing department, said there was a clear need for a sports hall in Butetown, with several local clubs keen to use the new space.
He said: “There’s an identified need for a community space within the area, with a number of local sports clubs having shown interest in using this space. This application will provide local residents with new independent living flats, including facilities for older residents and, through the proposed sports facilities, for the wider community.”
The scheme was also welcomed by Cllr Saeed Ebrahim, representing the Butetown ward, who said: “This initiative will provide a great facility for elders in our community. Developing this empty site on Bute Street will improve the character of the street and reduce the opportunity for antisocial behaviour.”
The planning committee voted unanimously to grant permission for the plans.
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